Unoccupied buildings have become a common sight in many high brow and medium brow areas in Nigeria. With the huge housing deficit that is plaguing the country one would expect that there would be fewer unoccupied buildings but the case is the reverse. While in the long run, the house tends to depreciate when it is not occupied, you cannot leave out the factor of insecurity as such buildings could serve as hiding places for hoodlums. Our reporter EVELYN OKORUWA examines these issues and more.
Uncompleted buildings have become a common sight in many high brow and medium brow areas in Nigeria. With the huge housing deficit that is plaguing the country one would expect that there would be fewer unoccupied buildings but the case is the reverse. While in the long run, the house tends to depreciate when it is not occupied, you cannot leave out the factor of insecurity as such buildings could serve as hiding places for hoodlums. Our reporter Evelyn Okoruwa examines these issues and more.
Mr. Bode Lanre a businessman told Leadership that he prefers to live in his own house in the suburb than to rent a house inside the Federal Capital Territory for a very high amount. Describing the cost of rent as outrageous he said, “If you go to Utako, Maitaima, Asokoro and some other high brow areas in the FCT, you see lot of beautiful buildings that have been completed but no one is living there because of the outrageous rent. How will I cough out millions of naira to rent a house when I can comfortable use such money to buy a land in the outskirts of Abuja and build a house to my own taste,” he queried.
Also Ms. Marie Ann, a banker narrated her experience with an agent. She explained that she got a house from an agent who unknown to her didn’t have the permission of the landlord be the agent for his house. Two months after she moved into the house the Landlord of the house came and drove them away.
“We found out that because the house had been unoccupied for five years, the agent decided to rent the house to make quick money, only for the landlord to show up 2 months later. Even when we pleaded with the landlord, yet he drove us out and told us he didn’t want to give his house to any tenant and added that he preferred it to remain unoccupied.
“This particular man has so many empty houses spread across Abuja while a common man cannot even afford to have one even in the suburbs,” she lamented.
However, Patricia Otubor experience was quite different. She was robbed on her way home and the culprits ran into an uncompleted building before people could come to her rescue. “We couldn’t catch them because there is an exit point that leads from the uncompleted building into the next street. I just thank God that I was not hurt.
Even with the above experience of some Nigerians, abandoned buildings still remain a common sight in many cities, whereas there is a rising number of the housing deficit in the country. Apart from been an eyesore when they start deteriorating, uncompleted or abandoned buildings especially in clusters close to residential areas according to security experts, could pose a great security challenge to people living around. Hoodlums tend to use these buildings as their hiding places after perpetuating crimes and other nefarious activities.
According to a security expert, Mr. Aideyan Idusogie, “It is very dangerous for an uncompleted buildings to be inside an estate where people already reside as thieves can easily rob people living inside the estate and seek refuge in such places. Even residents of such estates can vandalise such buildings and use them as dumping grounds for all sorts of thing,” he said.
However, despite the risk that uncompleted and unoccupied buildings cause to the environment, it still exists for reasons such as lack of funds on the part of the developers to complete the project, death of the developer or when disputes or unresolved situations prompted it to be so. Another reason is the issue of high cost of rent.
According to Real Estate Developers Association of Nigeria (REDAN)’s Secretary General, Mr. Goke Odunlami, “houses can be abandoned when people built it with free money and cannot be bothered if the houses are completed. There are buildings that are abandoned because the owners died and family have not resolved the disposal of such properties, and there buildings that are abandoned because of bad planning. Some buildings exist in some areas where on completion, there are no people to buy them. Some abandoned structures which are basically started alright but they were not able to get the funds to complete them. The reasons are so diversified.
“Some are also abandoned because government came and decided maybe they are taking them over or these buildings are erected in the wrong places. So, all what they are doing is to wait for compensation before they are demolished,” he added.
Uncompleted buildings apart from being an eyesore to the environment tend to deteriorate faster than a one that is being occupied. The quality of the house gets compromised thereby causing more on the developers when he finally wants to complete the house.
Odunlami explaining further: “Without a doubt, any abandoned buildings always deteriorate. Look at all the buildings people occupy, you sweep, if there is a leakage you correct it very fast, if there is a water fault, you correct it straight away. When a building is occupied, there is the tendency that all other creatures like ants and others may want to dwell in that house. Take for example you abandon a house, it will be exposed to weather, the woods after so much heat it starts to bend, the door you normally open freely will not open freely again.